One area the Chicago Bears have shown signs of improvement during the first two seasons of the team’s rebuild has been on the defensive side of the ball.
Among the players who has helped bring improvements to the defense has been Adrian Amos, a fifth-round pick in 2015 who has started 30 games in the last two seasons, and is someone Pro Football Focus considers a secret superstar:
Adrian Amos was one of the lone bright spots in the Bears secondary a season ago pic.twitter.com/7mDfz2aOwu
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 8, 2017
As you know by now, the safety position has been a revolving door of less-than-inspiring talent in recent years. The Bears could have drafted one of the many highly touted safety prospects early, but decided to fill holes via free agency with Quinitn Demps and later in the draft with Eddie Jackson instead. Along the way, we might have overlooked Amos, who is the only returning member of the 2016 secondary expected to start in the Bears’ base defense this season.
Amos’ 81.7 grade from PFF ranked 26th among the 90 safeties who played enough snaps to qualify for the site’s leaderboard. He was a quality defender against the pass, earning a 78.4 coverage grade, and even better against the run where PFF handed him an 81.0 grade as a run defender that ranked him 23rd at the position. Amos had the best grade among Bears defensive backs last year and was the only player in the secondary who had an above average grade.
Further, the only Bears defenders who earned a higher grade from PFF were linebacker Jerrell Freeman (93.8) and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (83.1).
The Bears were atrocious in Mel Tucker’s two years as defensive coordinator before Vic Fangio took over that role under head coach John Fox. During Tucker’s two seasons, the Bears allowed an average of 385.8 total yards and 28.8 points per game in what turned out to be a significant decline from the type of production Lovie Smith’s defenses posted before he was fired following the 2012 season. Things haven’t gone much better for the Bears as far as win-loss record is concerned, but moments of progress have flashed here and there.
The defense has trimmed its yards per game allowed down to 346.1, improving its rank from 30th in Tucker’s two seasons to 14th and 15th in each of the last two years, respectively. Unfortunately, the defense isn’t all the way there yet, as their opponents’ 24.9 points per game average still ranks in the lower third of football.
Still, the decrease in total yards allowed suggests the Bears aren’t as easily pushed back by opposing offenses as they once were. And if that trend is to continue in 2017, Amos will likely be a part of it as a member of the revamped secondary.